Les Misérables (2012) Review

I will start by saying this movie is definitely not a replacement for the live experience; however, it was still quite enjoyable and did bring out some of my emotions, especially towards the end.  In fact, I think I felt more invested in the movie during the second half.

Les Misérables

If you’re not ready to be sitting in a theater for close to 3 hours of almost non-stop singing, then you may want to steer clear from this movie.  For the most part, there isn’t a lot of just plain dialogue.

I think the casting for me was half-hit, half miss.  I really liked Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean.  There were a few times where the make-up on him was done so well that I almost didn’t recognize it was Jackman.  I also really liked Samantha Barks as Éponine.  Her solo number was fantastic, not to mention quite memorable.  I think out of all the musical numbers, that one stood out to me the most.  Daniel Huttlestone, who plays a young boy named Gavroche, was both charming and endearing.  His musical numbers stood out to me as well.  I also think the filmmakers did a great job with choosing the supporting cast who portrayed the rebellious schoolboys.  I really felt a lot of emotion during their failing barricade scene.

As for the characters I weren’t too fond of, for some reason I didn’t really much care for the Cosette-Marius love story, nor was I too invested in Javert or Fantine.  The actors portraying each of these characters did a great job, but for some reason I just didn’t find myself really clicking with their characters.

The ending definitely had me in tears, as much as I told myself I wasn’t going to cry.  I was surprised at how emotionally invested I had become by the end of the film as opposed to the beginning.  I thought the very last scene that the movie closes on was beautiful and sort of bittersweet.  Kind of similar to Anna Karenina (2012), the movie is set sort of like a play, but you won’t see anything like changing sets.  More like you see certain actors come and go like apparitions without the “ghostly” effects, if that makes any sense.  There are also quite a few hilarious scenes that provide the much needed comic relief in between all the dark and dreariness.

I am honestly not sure if I liked this version better than the 1998 Liam Neeson version.  I don’t think you can really compare the two though, since from what I remember, the Neeson version was not done in musical form.  It was just a dramatic adaptation.  It’s been years since I’ve seen it, so I can’t really say for certain, but I think I enjoyed Geoffrey Rush as Inspector Javert a lot better than Crowe in this one.  Anyway, after seeing this musical version, it makes me want to go back and watch that older one, which I will probably be doing soon.

I will close by saying that there were a few times where I wished they had included subtitles during some bits, just because not everyone was singing very clearly, so sometimes it was difficult for me to catch what exactly they were saying.  I think if I hadn’t already been familiar with the story, I might have gotten a little lost.  There were also times where the singers kind of clashed with one another in the musical numbers, making it a little more difficult to concentrate on what was being said.  Then again, that might just be a problem I had on my own.

FINAL VERDICT: B+

Whatever your reservations might be, I encourage those who are the least bit curious to give this film a shot.  I think it’s at least worth a one-time viewing experience.

10 responses to “Les Misérables (2012) Review

  1. Completely agree with the subtitles suggestion, It would have been very helpful (especially during Eddie Redmayne’s bits). Nice review, I hadn’t even realized there was a Liam Neeson Version either, lol

    • Yes!! It might have looked incredibly tacky to some, but I just couldn’t understand some of the singing and I found it to be rather frustrating.

      A friend actually told me about the Liam Neeson version back when we were in middle school. I remembered watching it several times and thoroughly enjoying it. I also vaguely recall being amused by Rush’s Javert. I don’t think he had meant to portray the character humorously, but I think there had been something about the way he portrayed that character so sarcastically that I couldn’t help but chuckle.

  2. I did see the adaptation with Liam Neeson, and it was just a straight-up dramatic adaptation of the Victor Hugo novel. Russel Crowe’s singing is what I heard people complain about.

  3. Nice work on your review. Happy New Year to you. I’ll check out your Best of 2012 article Later this year – like tomorrow. Yeah subtitles for English speaking people to understand what others sang in English. Of course that is the British English we are discussing, so yeah – often it IS hard to understand them.

    While I haven’t seen the Les Miserables film production starring Liam Neeson, I can suggest an alternative. The 25th Anniversary Concert of Les Miserables was performed in London on stage and is available as a DVD. The only repeat performer is of couse the terrific Samantha Barks (Eponine).

    Like you I thought this was the best song in the film.

    PS: Don’t acquire the 10th Anniversary performance on DVD. I’m told the DVD has issues. The 25th Anniversary Concert does have all the fabulous music and performances – just not the sets. However I must tell you that the lighting and effects make it a perfect halfway point between the actual stage show and the new film. It looks just great on a big screen TV.

    • Haha, happy new year to you as well, Mike. I don’t think it was the British English I had difficulty understanding so much as I wish some of the words had been enunciated a bit more clearly. Then again, my hearing might be going…

      I’ve been meaning to check out the concert version that you’ve mentioned for years now, but never got around to it. Perhaps now is the time to do it.

      I recommend watching the Neeson version though, if you’re up to it. I can’t remember everything clearly since it’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but I do remember enjoying it.

      Thanks for stopping by, as always!

  4. I’ve seen the stage production three times. As I said in my review this augments the visuals and leaves the heart of the music intact. I agree that Russel Crowe’s voice was a bit weak but loved Eddie Redmayne as Maris. Good review.

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